In Tough Times, Charities Benefit from the Generosity of U.Va. Employees

October 31, 2008

October 31, 2008 — The economic slowdown means that charities are relying more than ever on the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign at the University of Virginia, which began Oct. 13.

The ongoing theme, "Giving Hope," could not be more appropriate this year. Administered by the Community Relations Office, the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign is a workplace giving program that gives University and state employees the opportunity to contribute to the charities of their choice.

The silver lining in the economic cloud is that Americans continue to be generous in bad times, according to a Giving USA Foundation survey reported in the Christian Science Monitor. "The online survey found that 46 percent of people whose own situation had deteriorated over the past year still planned to donate this season," the Monitor reported.

U.Va. employees have a long tradition of leading the state in this workplace giving program. Last year, employees donated a record $888,888 to area and national charities.

"This year is a little different," said Jim Fitzgerald, associate director of community relations and chairman of U.Va.'s 2008 campaign. "As a result of the economic slowdown that has embraced the country and the world, area charities and nonprofits are relying even more on the generosity of University and Virginia employees."

With more than 1,400 charities participating in the campaign, U.Va. employees can easily find causes to match their interests. Types of charities include health and human services, animal welfare, environmental conservation and medical research.

"Last year, CVC donations represented 10 percent of our total funds raised," Kathryn Cross, development director of the Charlottesville Free Clinic, said. "And, while the Free Clinic cannot improve our country's economic situation, we can provide area residents in need with primary medical care, prescription medications and dental care."

Fitzgerald said the charities are grateful for past support and are mindful "of the sacrifice many employees must make this year to continue their support." Already, approximately 1,100 employees have pledged through the campaign.

Employees can pledge online at or turn in their red envelopes to their area's representative. The Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign at U.Va. runs through Dec. 12, with payroll deductions beginning on the first paycheck in January.

For information, call 434-924-1321 or e-mail